NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/16/24 4:30 p.m.

DM&IR SDM #301 having just emerged from the Proctor shops after conversion from an SD18, and the very first to undergo this conversion.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/18/24 10:48 a.m.

An odd one for sure, that's an Alco C630 in UP colors with DM&IR lettering, leading a DM&IR empty train uphill.

In 1966, Union Pacific bought ten each of EMD SD40s, GE U28Cs and Alco C630s as part of an evaluation program for new big 6-axle power. The EMDs won out, since no more orders for U28Cs or C630s were placed, and neither the GEs or Alcos were much loved by the crews. The early GE U-Boats were pretty wretched machines, and the C630's piston failure debacle sabotaged a lot of Alco's goodwill at various railroads.

The C630s were the only Alco road units on UP, other than the 3 disastrous C855 twin-engine units and 4 RS-27s, and so were basically orphans. They saw some road duty and a lot of heavy hump yard service, but also spent a lot of time stored. 

In 1974, DM&IR had ordered EMD SD38s but EMD was backed up on orders, and they needed the power now, so UP sold the idled C630s to DM&IR. Their service was brief, about a year, and DM&IR never even bothered to repaint them. After being parked for a year, they were sold to Quebec Cartier Mining and headed even further north, and even on the all-Alco QCM, they were mostly held as reserve power. One was rebuilt with modern GE electrical gear as part of a rebuild program test pilot but none of the others received the same treatment

​​​​​​

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/18/24 1:17 p.m.

A more quintessential photo of the DM&IR, with two gleaming maroon and yellow sD9s leading empty ore Jennie's up Proctor Hill 

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/18/24 1:25 p.m.

DM&IR #165 leads a quartet of SDs that represent examples of each type of first generation SD they purchased. The #165 is a relatively rare Phase IV SD9, using a carbody similar to an SD18. The next unit is a Phase III, with large 48 inch fans on the rear. The third unit is an early carbody Phase II with 36 inch. fans, and the fourth unit is an SD18. The train is westbound about to head under Highway 35 at Saunders, south of Superior on Missabe's interstate branch which connected the Minnesota ore carrier with railroads serving Superior, WI. Those telltales they're passing under seem oddly high. You could be an NBA star and not have to worry about the approaching "low" clearance.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/18/24 2:03 p.m.

DM&IR #165 leads a quartet of SDs on a manifest freight west across the unusual Interstate bridge that connects Oliver, WI to Steelton, MN. The dual-level bridge handles rail traffic on the top and highway traffic below. The bridge was designed for double track, but wasn't ever actually double-tracked. Note the cut girders in the foreground, which were removed in the 1970s and used to build a new bridge over US 53 near Virginia, MN for entry into Minorca's new taconite plant. The Interstate branch gave DM&IR connections with C&NW and SOO as well as BN, and is now part of CN's mainline to Chicago.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/18/24 4:41 p.m.

A Missabe SD38-2 serves as the dock switcher on DM&IR's dock 5 in Duluth, MN. In the background a DMIR crane helps a crew changing out track on Dock 6, the largest dock on the Great Lakes.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/18/24 4:52 p.m.

DM&IR #166, a Phase 4 SD9, resists the temptation of the newer arrowhead scheme while waiting with a mix of SD18s, other SD9s and SD38ACs for its next assignment. The yellow vertical stripe on the nose was a 1967 addition to the original mid-1950s color scheme. The #166 held onto that paint scheme right up until the end of its career on the DM&IR, the last high hood to run on the Missabe.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/18/24 5:49 p.m.

A pair of SDs lifts ore cars up the 2.2% grade out of Duluth. The DM&IR was fortunate in that they had to haul empties up out of Duluth and loads downgrade, and not the other way around.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/18/24 6:34 p.m.

A pair of SD38ACs (SD38s with AC generators and DC traction motors) climb up Proctor Hill, passing Spirit Mountain a curve, a popular photo spot. While the ore cars still climb the hill here, the crimson and gold EMDs are gone, the line is single-tracked, and development has encroached on the hillside.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/19/24 8:51 a.m.

We got a fair bit of snow dumped on us on Friday, so Saturday morning I went out to the Adirondack Railroad to try and get some photos. I was hoping that with the snow A) I could get some photos of them bucking some snow banks and B) they'd be running either with two units on the head end or in push-pull mode. When I got to Utica though, the #1835 was sitting on a siding, the #2400 hasn't run all winter and is likely winterized, and the #1845 has been in the shop getting some new cylinder liners from what I've heard. I didn't calculate that, being lake effect snow, they didn't get as much up there, so there wasn't that much snow for them to clear, and they decided they didn't need the extra power, so it was just the #3573 on the lead.  Still, it wasn't as cold as the last time I was out, the sun was peeking out, and I was already out there with my camera.

So, here we have the #3573 and it's 6-car train kicking up some powder as it speeds through Marcy, NY.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/19/24 9:05 a.m.

Approaching Woods Road in Trenton, just north of Holland Patent. I like this location in terms of how it looks, with the wooded hillside and the small creek, but it is a tough one because there's no great place to park, and the road meets the tracks at an angle, and so your options are either to back track in the opposite direction to Route 365, or to head in the right direction but then get stuck forever at a traffic light waiting to turn left on Route 28. Either way, it seems like it makes it hard to catch them again, especially at any of the spots immediately after, like Sand Road or Plank Road.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/19/24 9:24 a.m.

Arriving in Remsen

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/19/24 10:03 a.m.

A dome car at Remsen is not a sight you would have seen in the New York Central days. While the Adirondack Division, and the St. Lawrence Division for that matter, did not have the tight clearances of the NYC's Hudson Division and could have accomodated dome cars, NYC preferred to simply have a roster of coaches that could run anywhere on the network, without special consideration to where they might not be able to run. A wise choice from an operating standpoint, but having a dome car for traversing the Adirondack State Park would have been a nice offering.

The #9001 was built by American Car & Foundry in 1955 as a Union Pacific Railroad “Astro Dome/Lounge" for the City Of Portland. The #9001 operated across the west until it was sold to the Auto Train Corporation in 1972. In 1982 it was sold again, this time to the Green Bay & Western Railroad in Wisconsin. Continuing its travels around North America, in 1997 the Wisconsin Central, who had acquired the GB&W in 1992, transferred it to the Algoma Central Railroad, also owned by the Wisconsin Central, in northern Ontario Province as the Algoma Country and then in 2001 it went to the Canadian National Railroad when CN acquired the Wisconsin Central. In 2017 it was sold to the Friends of the Milwaukee 261 where it was refurbished and sold to Adirondack Railroad in 2019.

 

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/19/24 10:31 a.m.

A trio of brakemen/conductors ride the pilot as the #3573 unhooks from the front of the train, reverses down the passing siding and then hooks up to the train to head south, running long hood forward.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/19/24 10:54 a.m.

A look at those unusual Dofasco Zero Weight Transfer trucks. While south of the border, Alco had their own Hi-Adhesion truck design for their 4- and 6-axle Centuries, north of the border they used these trucks made by Dofasco (Dominion Foundry And Steel Company). Dofasco built EMD and GE-design trucks for Canada-produced EMDs and GEs, which were the same designs just cast by Dofasco, but for MLW they designed brand-new trucks. The Alco Hi-Ad was a somewhat complicated design and was also notorious for an absymal ride quality, so this was a high-adhesion bolsterless design that also featured a shorter wheelbase to work on the tighter curves of the Canadian Rockies. It's distinctive for it's M-shaped frame and lack of visible springs, and was apparently a pretty good design. So good in fact, that GE actually used the Dofasco 3-axle/3-motor truck under it's first C44AC test unit, the GE #2000, which entered testing service in April 1994. The shorter wheelbase was an issue though, concentrating the axle loads too close together, and so GE modified the design with a longer wheelbase. The big 4-axle Dash-8s (B40-8, B40-8W) also used a truck of a notably similar design.

Now, not all M420s used this truck. If an M420 was a completely new build, it used these trucks and was classified an M420W. But if a railroad traded in an older Alco/MLW product and chose to reuse the traction motors and trucks to save money, then it was called an M420R, with the R standing for Rebuild. Providence & Worcester, the only US railroad to order an M420 and the first railroad in the US to own a Safety Cab locomotive, traded RS-3s in on their M420s, and they rode on the RS-3 trucks and traction motors and so were called an M420R.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/19/24 11:21 a.m.

I then skipped the entire chase south, instead leaving from Remsen and parking at the Utica Transportation Department garage and hiking a mile and a half in along the Erie Canal to catch the train coming south over the Barge Canal, an improvement of improvement of the Erie, Oswego, Champlain, and Cayuga & Seneca Canals that used natural waterways and was begun in 1903 and completed in 1918. This is partially why I had been hoping that they would have the #1835 leading south, because the #3573 isn't too photogenic from the back end. You can see that the line here out of Utica was double-tracked, since this was handling all RW&O/St. Lawrence Division trains and all Adirondack Division trains out of Utica. The double-tracking went only as far north as Stittville, and was reduced to a single-track sometime between 1929 and 1943, from the division maps I can find.

Wish it would have been one of the RS-18us leading, either short hood or long hood forward, or the C424, because the #3573 isn't the prettiest going forward and looks even worse going this way. Theoretically I could have gotten it going north, but A) I would have had to have walked over the bridge, since there's no way to hike in from the other side, short of taking a boat down the canal and going ashore, and I'm not too keen on that idea, and B) I would have had to forego the entire northbound chase, since it's a 30 minute walk in and a 30 minute walk out.

02Pilot
02Pilot PowerDork
2/19/24 11:51 a.m.

In reply to NickD :

Just a quick photo tip: when shooting in snow, it's usually a good idea to throw in a little positive exposure compensation. It helps bring out the colors and detail in the dark areas. The camera looking to balance the exposure, but the sky and bright snow fools it into thinking it needs to dial the exposure back to the point that your subjects often end up darker than you might like. You can also fix it with post-processing, but I always like to get things as close to right as possible in the camera. Try +1.0 to +1.5 for starters.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/19/24 12:18 p.m.

In reply to 02Pilot :

Thanks, I'll have to tinker with that. It did, unfortunately get quite cloudy and dark after literally the first location. It was a very strange day. It'd be bright and sunny for a bit, then dark, then the now would kick up and go to white-out conditions, then it'd clear up again, and then cycle back through again over the span of about 20 minutes. When I started hiking back in to the bridge, I got part way in and the wind and snow got extremely bad and I started to question my wisdom.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/19/24 12:45 p.m.

While at Remsen, I saw a passenger walking around and thought "Gee, that looks like Hal Raven". Then, while waiting at the bridge, I was scrolling through Facebook, I saw a post from Saratoga, Corinth & Hudson that said "Today’s morning adventure takes us to Utica to inspect this Alco S1 for the Adirondack Scenic Railroad. We hope to do some work and return this locomotive to service for them. The Adirondack crew was preparing the train for the Cabin Fever ride this afternoon." Hal Raven is owner and operator of the Saratoga, Corinth & Hudson, a tourist line that uses part of the D&H Adirondack Branch, as well as Raven Rail, which is a company that repairs, maintains and operates several 539-powered Alcos (he has an S1, an S2 and an RS1)

He also posted these photos of the #9411. The story on this thing, from what I understand, was that it was owned by the US Air Force and stationed at Griffiss Air Force Base in Rome, NY as their #7370, and was used to switch cars of coal for the big steam heat plant for the base and move occasional other carloads that the base might get delivered. The base was closed in 1993 by Base Realignment and Closure and the #7370 was sold to private owners. It remained in Rome and was occasionally used to move equipment in and out of the Adirondack's small shop that they had in Rome, but mostly was just parked.

In 2011, it was repainted in the new Adirondack green, yellow and black, renumbered to #9411 and moved out to Utica, although it never operated under it's own power. It was moved up to Thendara in 2013 to be displayed for the Railfan Weekends that Adirondack used to have, and was up there until about 2015, again, not operating, and then was moved down to Utica and stuck in a siding for the past 8-9 years.

From what I've heard, the 539 in this thing runs absolutely beautifully but it has some electrical gremlins that have never been solved. From what some of the Adirondack crews say, it has some issues on the ground side, and attempting to move it out of idle trips breakers. If anyone can get it sorted out, it's Hal Raven.

It is kind of an odd choice to put this in service though. It only has 660hp (S1 with a naturally-aspirated Macintosh & Seymore 539), and they already have a 600hp EMD SW1 for switching purposes, plus it doesn't have M.U. capabilities. I suppose it might be able to handle some of the Thendara-Otter Lake or Tupper Lake-Sabattis runs, but it does seem like it would make more sense to instead get NYC RS-3 #8255 up and running instead, since it's 1600hp makes it a bit more useful and that reportedly didn't need much work either.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/19/24 12:48 p.m.

I went down to Utica after hiking out to see if there was any activity around the #9411, but I'm guessing they had mostly just done a visual inspection that morning.

VolvoHeretic
VolvoHeretic Dork
2/19/24 12:49 p.m.

How about North Dakota's only lift bridge and tunnel on the Great Northern Railway crossing the Yellowstone River? Built in 1913 and only lifted once right after completion as a test. Paddle boat service ended the next day. Next to it is a wooden tunnel with a kink in the middle so you can't see all the way through. It has a sister bridge on the Missouri River a short distance away. I drove on the bridge some 50 years ago back when you had to share it with trains and also climbed up onto the top when the gangplanks were in better condition. smiley

beautifulbadlandsnd.com: See The Only Liftbridge and Tunnel Like This in the Region

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/19/24 12:51 p.m.

And then, as the weather continued to worsen, a westbound Empire Service, with Amtrak heritage unit #100, the Midnight Blue 50th Anniversary unit, on the lead. By this time the weather was getting really gross and I was ready to go home and get inside.

Honestly, this heritage unit is kind of meh. It's just a solid dark blue with a white stripe and the 50th anniversary logo. Not terribly exciting.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/19/24 3:31 p.m.

In reply to VolvoHeretic :

Imagine being the poor guy that designed the whole bridge lift mechanism only for it to never use it.

VolvoHeretic
VolvoHeretic Dork
2/19/24 7:38 p.m.

In reply to NickD :

That's for sure. I read that it had a 3 cylinder kerosene engine in a middle motor shack up on top between the counterweights. It also had a turnstile hooked up to the cables with a bunch of peg holes for wood poles so that 10 or so guys could manually walk in circles and lift the bridge. It also has 2" cables (now 110 years old) still holding up the counter weights with a lift weight of 1.14 million pounds. surprise I wonder how many turns of the turnstile it took per inch of lift. 

ghosts of north dakota.com: Fairview Lift Bridge and Cartwright Tunnel

Courtesy of ghosts of north dakota.com

Courtesy of ghosts of north dakota.com

NickD
NickD MegaDork
2/20/24 12:27 p.m.

On a railroad-related note, a fascinating piece of industrial history, the last remaining Hulett unloader, is slated to be scrapped. These were massive unloaders designed to unload iron ore and coal out of Great Lakes ships and into rail cars, designed by George Hulett in 1898. It was unsuited to tidewater ports because it could not adjust for rising and falling tides, although one was used in New York City to unload garbage. At their peak there were 75 of them all across the Great Lakes, but by 1992 they started to dwindle when self-unloading ships really became the standard. By 1992, there were just six left; four on Whiskey Island and two in Chicago. The pair in Chicago, which were used to unload coal, were shut down for the last time in 2002, and demolished in 2010. The Cleveland four, despite being on the National Register of Historic Places and designated as Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmarks, were dismantled in 2000 to allow redevelopment of Whiskey Island. Two of them were completely scrapped, but the other two were carefully dismantled and set aside to enable reconstruction somewhere else for preservation. Well, that reconstruction never happened and as of January 26th, 2024, the Port Of Cleveland is searching for a contractor to cut up and dispose of the remains of those carefully disassembled Huletts.

So, if you haven't seen a Hulett in action, they have four rails running along the dock that they could move back and forth with. Steel towers, riding on wheeled trucks, supported girders that spanned the railroad tracks. Along these girders ran a carriage which could move toward or away from the dock face. This in turn carried a large walking beam which could be raised or lowered; at the dock end of this was a vertical column with a large scoop bucket on the end that could rotate. A parallel beam was mounted halfway down this column to keep the column vertical as it was raised or lowered. The machine's operator was stationed in the vertical beam above the bucket for maximum cargo visibility and rode up and down with the bucket. The scoop bucket was lowered into the ship's hold, then picked up about 10 tons of of ore at a time, raised back up, and moved back toward the dock. To reduce the required motion of the carriage, a moving hopper ran between the main girders. It was moved to the front for the main bucket to discharge its load, and then moved back to dump it into a waiting railroad car, or out onto a frame at the back to dump the load onto a stockpile. Once the hold was worked down to where the bucket couldn't easily grab it, they would use the Hulett to lower bucket tractors down into the ship to run around and scoop the remaining ore up into a pile to be picked up.

Previous methods of unloading lake freights, involving hoists and buckets and much hand labor, cost approximately 18 cents per ton. Unloading with Huletts cost only 6 cents per ton and unloading only took 5 to 10 hours, as opposed to days for previous methods. The advent of the Hulett also allowed lake freighters to triple and quadruple in size, since they could be unloaded so much quicker.

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